If you are new to freelancing, one of the most important questions you’ll have to answer is how much to pay yourself. There are no rules, but some common sense and a few resources will help you price freelance services.
Flareapps.com small business tip #026Know What You Want to Be Paid as a Freelancer
Knowing what you want to paid as a freelancer is a good place to start. Before doing any research or looking at competitor pricing, consider how much you want to be paid and as importantly, how much it will cost you to be a freelancer. Although you may be charging by the job, those estimates have to come from your bottom line – what you want to earn per hour, and what it costs you to earn that money (your expenses including operating expenses, taxes and healthcare).
You can calculate an hourly or monthly wage you feel fits your level of experience, but don’t etch this in stone yet. This is just research. Follow the small business and freelance tips below to help you find some freelance pricing averages for your occupation.
Flareapps.com small business tip #027Look at National Hourly Wages
Once you’ve decided what you’d like to be paid as a freelancer, find out what others in your industry are being paid. Visit the US Bureau Labor Statistics National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates database. This wage data database is taken from data collected from employers in all sectors across the USA. Search for your job type and check the average wage. This data provides excellent details that can help you make a decision about pricing your services. For example, searching the database for Web Developer averages, you’ll see national averages including the mean average (total wages / number of wages reported) and the median (literally the middle wage value in the data set).
The main page provides national averages by occupational title as shown below.
Clicking the occupational title (Web Developers in our example) takes you to more detail. You’ll see a detailed description of the job title as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can also view National estimates and averages by industry type.
Once on the Geographical profile page, you’ll see a table of states with the highest level of employment for the selected occupation (below the map) including the means wage for each of those top states. If you click “Create Customized Table” link as shown below, you can find the average wage by state or city.
After clicking Create Customized Table, start selecting a search type. If you want to look at the average wage for Web Developers in Tucson, for example, you’d click “One occupation for multiple geographic areas (shown below).
Then, find the occupation in the list (just start typing and the application will find it).
Click the Continue button and select a geographic region. For our example, we’ve chosen Metropolitan or Non-metropolitan Area as shown below.
Click Continue and select the city as shown below then click Continue again.
Now select the data type. In our example, we’ll choose “Hourly Mean Wage”.
Click continue and select to view as HTML or Excel. We’ve chosen HTML.
Click Continue one last time and you’ll see the mean hourly wage for Web Developers in the city we chose.
Compare the average in your city with the hourly wage you chose in step 1 (Know What You Want to Paid). How does it compare? Write this figure down. Your decision about pricing freelance services needs further exploration, though .Remember that these people are “employees” not self-employed. Their employers withheld taxes and healthcare amounts monthly. As a freelancer, you will be responsible for these expenses, so you absolutely must take that into account when setting your rates or pricing.
Flareapps.com small business tip #028Look at Freelance Competitor Pricing
Now, you need to look at your competitors. What are other freelancers charging to provide the same services? Go to Elance.com Talent Trends data taken from over 3 million registered freelancers around the globe.
Search average freelance pricing by skill or by geography. Choose USA in the world image map and then hover your mouse over your state to see averages freelance prices by job classification.
You can also do local Google searches and find pricing listed on competitor’s websites. Though frequently freelancers don’t list their pricing, some do.
Flareapps.com small business tip #029Pay Yourself for Hours but Remember that You Need to Meet Expenses
Though an hourly rate average is a good jumping off point, you do have to weigh this this against expenses and operational costs. When you were working at your day job, someone else paid for office space, equipment, phone bills, internet, printing and marketing costs, and, each month, they withheld taxes from your paycheck. What you want to earn and what others earn will give you a benchmark, but, that benchmark is meaningless if you can’t meet expenses after paying yourself.
Flareapps.com small business tip #030Remember to Add Something for Rainy Days
So, now you know what you want to pay yourself. Now make sure you’ve put something away for a rainy day. What will it cost for business insurance, medical or dental costs and other incidentals? What about savings? How much would you like to save each month for your hard work? Consider all of these things when deciding on freelance pricing.
Flareapps.com small business tip #031Remember to Add Administrative Costs
Although freelancing has its freedoms, it also means more responsibility. You are piloting your own ship! When you were at a day job, someone else chased down the work for you – you just had to show up and do your job. When you freelance, you’ll spend some of your time finding and courting clients. You’ll also be responsible for all of your own administration duties like creating and sending invoices and estimates, accounting, phone calls and emails to clients. Then there are operating costs, such as office space (if you aren’t working from a home office), computers, hardware, software, online subscriptions and the like. All of these costs need to be estimated.
Flareapps.com small business tip #032Don’t Sell Yourself Short
As a new freelancer, it may be tempting to price your services low in order to get business. Although it is natural to “pay your dues” when you are starting out, don’t sell yourself and your skills short. If your main marketing tactic is “low low pricing” you’ll find yourself working many hours, frequently at smaller jobs, just to meet your monthly financial needs. Be aware of this and learn to have the confidence to get what you are worth. Confidence is a skill that all self-employed people have to learn. Find an self-employment coach or small business mentor who can stand in your corner with you and encourage you. Google “self-employment coach” or “small business coach” and you’ll find someone who knows the challenges all freelancers face. They’ll teach you the skills you need to become the successful freelancer you want to be. A monthly meeting to make sure you are taking care of business and yourself can do wonders.
Settling on freelancing pricing takes work and some research. If you follow the steps outlined above, you’ll have a better chance of finding a price that fits how you want to live and allows you to compete in your market. Flare can help you succeed, too! Flare was created to help freelancers and small business owners easily manage business finances while providing the financial metrics needed to grow profit. Good luck and happy freelancing!